Magazine article Psychology Today

The Revolution That Takes Us Partway

Magazine article Psychology Today

The Revolution That Takes Us Partway

Article excerpt

"THINGS TAKE LONGER to happen than you think they will, then happen faster than you thought they could." This statement by the late economist Rudi Dornbusch applies to everything from late-life marriage to exponential technologies. I suspect it captures our emerging understanding of the brain as well.

We are at the beginning of a quantitative revolution in which single molecules can be snared with carbon nanotubes and individual neurons manipulated using light. At the other end of the scale, population-wide data sets identify genetic contributors to traits and disease with increasing accuracy.

These breakthroughs, amazing though they are, will take us only partway to vanquishing conditions such as schizophrenia or autism. This has nothing to do with inherent limitations in technology or computational power. Rather, one must look to the deeply social needs of human beings.

The families who share their stories in these pages hope to accelerate the pace of scientific inquiry. And in so doing, they reveal the main salve they possess today: the transformative power of human love and connection. In "Moment of Impact," Sabine Heinlein chronicles a woman who suffered a psychotic episode but went on to complete college thanks to a program that helps her ward off schizophrenia. …

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